There is debate over the classification of the different methods or types of hydroponics. We have divided hydroponics into four distinct methods of Hydroponics based on either the way the plants are placed into a system or where the nutrients come from. Later we will talk about different methods or techniques of nutrient delivery or how the nutrients are delivered to the plants. Each type has its own unique set of characteristics, but basically, the common thread is they all use nutrient-enriched water instead of soil to supply nutrients to the plant roots. Hydroponics is considered the basis for all other types and methods of hydroponic growing.
“True” Hydroponics is a type of horticulture where plants are grown without the use of soil or a rooting medium. Roots get their nutrients from a mixed in purified water and a chemical fertilizer mixture. Hydroponics systems can be set up indoors or out. The flexibility of different hydroponic branches and system design methods allows indoor farmers and home hobbyist gardeners to grow food anywhere, year-round, with higher net yields, in smaller spaces, all while using fewer resources.
Hydroculture is a form of hydroponics but with the use of an inorganic or organic solid growing medium. Plants are placed into, and roots grow through, an inert medium to physically support the roots while growing instead of just being placed directly into a system. Popular mediums are clay aggregate (LECA), perlite, gravel, sand, or other aggregate or substrates.
Aquaponics is a hydroponic system, the only difference is where the nutrients for the water solution comes from. Aquaponics is a hybrid food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish and other aquatic animals) and hydroponics in a symbiotic environment. Nutrient-rich aquaculture water loaded with fish waste is fed to hydroponic plants supplying them with a natural fertilizer. The plants naturally purify the water and convert ammonia into nitrates, then the system returns the water back to the fish tank.
Bioponics adds beneficial microorganisms from aquatic animal or plant waste instead of these chemical fertilizers. So it’s Aquaponics? Not really. Unlike an Aquaponics system where the water is constantly pumped up to the plant roots and then recycled back into the fish tank, these beneficial microorganisms are packaged, shipped, and added to the plant water later.
In the most recent years of modern hydroponics history, there have been some great advances in technology each with its own pros and cons. The advent of plastics has aided tremendously in the advancement in modern hydroponics. More indoor farmers and indoor hobbyist gardeners are combining different branches and system design methods with fantastic results, growing crops faster, larger, healthier in less space, and with fewer resources than ever before in history. Which one of these branches will you buy or build? What Method or Technique will you use to build your hydroponic system?